What August Camp Has Done For Me

by Carol Pastushok

August camp made me feel brave. Camp gave me the chance to test my limits and the courage to try new things. I didn’t perform heroic acts, but I felt joy with my achievements and experience.

Sometimes bravery comes out of desperation. I originally planned to travel with 2 friends to the Cascades. They backed out at the last minute, but I decided to go it alone. I wasn’t about to give up inspiring hikes in the wilderness and songs around a camp  fire. I knew there would be people of similar interests and I would make friends easily.

I found the campsite on a hot day in July 2017 somewhat disappointing. I was expecting tents nestled under trees. Instead, they were out in a hot open field under a blazing sun. I was happy to see cots after learning mice were about.

I unpacked my gear, quickly got into my swimsuit, and headed to the “swim hole”. I walked down the hot dusty road, turned at the intersection, and walked about 30 minutes, but no swimming hole. Could I be going the wrong direction? A car approached. I waved it down. The fellow said he thought I was going the wrong way and offered me a ride back. Normally, I would say no, especially when I realized his car might be his house. But I was desperate and got in. I didn’t ’t see any obvious weapons, but I made plans to leave when I noted blood running down his arm. The swimming hole was refreshing and I was grateful for my driver despite my initial fears.

Hikes were wonderful even though vistas were hidden behind smoke. The trails were hot and dusty and I decided to give the portable showers a try. Well, who knew that water in bags, laying out in the sun could get so hot and make a shower so refreshing.

 

I decided to go on a service hike to work on some trails. I was hesitant about going after I realized we’d have to carry gear and wear hard hats as we hiked to the worksite. But it wasn’t as hard as I thought and I had an added surprise.  I met someone who attended a high school in my home town.

The rafting trip down the rapids was another source for testing one’s mettle.  Again the safety attire didn’t thrill me but I’m glad I wore it. Rafts tumbling over rocks, oars flailing, water everywhere. A log protruding from the shore almost strikes a rider. Thank goodness for helmets. I didn’t think we could safely walk through the churning water as our rafts were maneuvered with ropes. But we did.

Finally, the trip down the rapids gave me a reason to be grateful. Little did I know that getting whacked with an oar would result in symptoms that would lead to the diagnosis of a silent life-threatening illness. I had surgery a month after returning home and have been in remission for almost three years. So I can end by saying that August Camp gave me the greatest gift…it gave me my life.

2020